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Orange County

2 Women Arrested in Rash of Wallet Thefts

At least 40 elderly shoppers have had their pockets picked in Laguna Hills and Lake Forest. Two other suspects are sought.

September 03, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Two Los Angeles women have been arrested for allegedly stealing wallets from at least 40 elderly shoppers in Orange County during the past two months, authorities said Thursday.

Rocio Maldonado, 27, and Alondra Fernando Castillo, 33, were being held at Orange County Jail on charges of felony commercial burglary, according to Jim Amormino, a spokesman for Sheriff's Department.

Maldonado, a child-care worker, and Castillo, a maid, were arrested last Friday, Amormino said, after deputies received a call from the manager of a Lake Forest 99 Cents Only store who said that the wallet of an elderly customer had been stolen.

Deputies spotted two women in the parking lot and followed them into a Trader Joe's, where they watched the women take a wallet from an elderly woman, Amormino said.

After following the two into other nearby stores, he said, the deputies made the arrests. Several wallets and a substantial amount of cash were found in the women's rented black Ford Explorer, Amormino said.

Investigators believe that the pair, working with two accomplices, targeted shoppers in their late 60s to their 90s at stores in Laguna Hills and Lake Forest. Amormino said one thief would create a distraction while the other would take the victim's wallet.

Deputies are seeking a man and another woman in the crimes.

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